Archives de catégorie : Project management

Turn your strategy into a sucess: Project Portfolio Management!

 

 

 

 

 

Having your projects serving your strategy and allowing you to reach the global objectives  is a basis for every company. However, we often see corporates which are struggling with unnecessary projects burning cash or not aligned projects consuming resources. this aims to a paradox: One doesn’t have enough money nor workforces to perform the really important projects within the organization.

Selecting the right projects to be done, arbitrating among them regarding to the available resources, budget and so with only one goal, serving the strategy and delivering what needed to succeed, that’s the goal of portfolio management.

Portfolio management has only one goal: ensuring the most out of the available resources with respect to the given strategy. It means identify and promote the most relevant projects, allow the resources, consolidate the forecast, and improve performance while managing the global risk of the portfolio. In that sense, PPM is a key task to be performed within an organization.

I am managing portfolios (mostly of innovative projects but also from operational projects) for more than 5 years now. I have changed portfolios one time and thus have been able to learn a lot about how to apply the good methods to achieve the best performance.

Running a portfolio is not an easy task and is a true management action. Arbitration, killing projects, re-allowing resources are the main task one perform each day.

Running a projects portfolio is the only way to insure that your strategy will be effectively applied by focusing on the awaited results with respect to this high level demand.

But is your company using PPM wisely?I found this infography on  I think it orth the reading.

Wrike.com

Are Companies Using Project Portfolio Management (PPM) Effectively? (#Infographic)

How to start an innovation challenge?

INNOVATION CHALLENge

Need to boost your innovation initiative?
Need to deploy an effective way to gather ideas from your community?
Need to energize your team on the innovation side?

You have the idea to run an innovation challenge?

Running such a challenge is not a straight and easy things to do if you want to leverage all results and achieve a good outcome regarding both continuous improvement or disruptive innovation.

What is an Innovation challenge?

An innovation challenge is particular in the way that it has an end (a few weeks), it is focused on a topic and, most important and often forgotten, it is has dedidacted ressources to implement the ideas. The deliverables should be clear and precisely defined (xx ideas implemented…).

In that way, an Innovation Challenge should be run as a project.

Why running an Innovation Challenge?

3 main reasons can lead to an innovation challenge. Otherwise some other tools might be more suitable.

  1. Want to solve  specific problem and need ideas and insights
  2. Want to aware people on a specific subject
  3. Start your innovation initiative by a particular event.

Main steps to run an effective Innovation Challenge

  • Name the project manager
  • Define clear scope, duration and deliverables
  • Determine the topic of the challenge and verify that it is aligned with coprporate concerns and startegy
  • Define the wording of the question
  • Find implementation team, allow ressources
  • Define with mean will be used to set the challenge (dedicated software, sharepoint, email…)
  • Define the targeted peoples who will be able to take part to the challenge
  • Define a powerful and innovative (somehow funny) communication plan
  • Run your challenge.
  • Dont’t forget to clearly set to the audience what you are looking for (ideas? solutions? concepts?…)
  • Keep the power high by communicating regularly and encourage discussion and exchange
  • Review ideas, select the good ones and assign ressources (with a dedicated implematation plan)
  • Communicate the results

Key parameters of success

  1. Run it as a project with all regarding attributes
  2. Management support incl. possiblities to mobilize team, ressources and budget to implement slected ideas.
  3. Have a clear duration, objectives and needs
  4. Encourage engagement and organize events to energize it.

Lessons Learned

I have run more than 10 innovation challenges so far. Most of the last ones have been succes ful with more than 500 ideas submitted and more than 1M€ savings generated. Not speaking about new products under development…
The first ones were a disaster. No problem to say it. I have collected for a 3 months duration 5 ideas for my first challenge… Bad topic, bad communication, unclear problem to solve, too wide subject, not a single good practice. We wanted to do a wonderfull challenge but ended with a too wide and difficult to handle challenge. The employees simply didn’t understand the point.
Hopefully this first fail did not affect the future ones because it stayed relatively unknown and we managed to prove to the community that all means were present for the second one hich have been much more sucessful.

 

What are you main lessons learned for your Innovation Challenge?

 

The Art of A/B testing

THE ART OF A_B TESTINGA/B testing seems to be the holy graal of start-upers. It might seem easy at the first sight. But actually is a real science which combine marketing, design, statistics and… chance.

What is A/B testing?

Very simple indeed.

Let’s say that you have a product. whatever product it is of course, however A/B testing is mostly used for webdesign and inbound marketing as you can easily test and learn at high speed. So you have a product. You have 2 possibilities regarding this product:

  • A version = orange coloured
  • B version = blue coloured

However before launching the production you want to know which one will be sold mostly and thus product the one that people wants.

To do that you have an audience Z that you split into two groups:

  1. Z(A) will be proposed with the A version (orange)
  2. Z(B) will be proposed with the B version (blue)

And you wait until you know which of A or B version has been sold the most. That’s it you are done.

Of course A/B testing is based on an assumption that nobody will be able to prove. It stays in the fact that people in the Z(A) group will react exactly the same in front of your test and Z(B) people does… So to be sure that your test worth value, you have to achieve a certain amount of visitors to « average » some particular behaviour. So the most people visit your website, the most trusted your A/B test.

A/Z testing for INNOWEO

Imagine now that I want, on INNOWEO, to do some A/B testing. I have around 150 visitors per day. I would like to optimize the people joining my INNOWEO community (more than 100 members, join !!). I have several option to test:

  1. Put at the bottom of each post a invitation to join (A)
  2. Put on the side bar an invitation to join (B)
  3. Have a pop-up that invite you to join after 10 sec on the site (C)
  4. Have it highlighted in flashy green (D)
  5. …..

Lots of possibilities.

So I could do as the following:

  • One third of my audience will see the A version
  • One third will see the B version
  • One third the C version

That’s A/Z testing where you test multiple variables. I just have to check what produces the most members.

As for an information I have tested A and B version with greater results for B version, the actual one on INNOWEO. I have never tried the other. Should I?

Multiple variable testing

Let’s know imagine that you want to test the shape and colour of a button, sounds and image. You are now entering the world of statistics and combination. 4 buttons, 3 sounds, 3 images give 36 possibilities. You can manage it iteratively or test it statistically to reduce the testing time. Up to you. A good experiment plan is however a valuable help.

The marketing side

Of course if you A/B test your product it is because you want to know which version is the more suited to your goal. That’s marketing.

So before launching a A/B test campaign prepare it to be sure you will reach your goals:

  • define precisely what to test (color, size, media, shape…)
  • select what kind of testing method you will apply (that’s key because you will have to perform different tasks)
  • Select your comparison factor (sales, new members, click…)

This should be in full accordance with your ultimate goal.

Dangers of A/B testing

Lots of dangers in A/B testing. Some are listed here below.

  1. Testing something not relevant (don’t test everything, focus on UX)
  2. Stopping too early (A/B test should be statistically significant)
  3. Stopping it too late (you are loosing time)
  4. Awaiting an increase in sale (you are not trying to sell more but trying to understand how to communicate)

What to test first

I would say test whatever will give you some more information about your audience and how it reacts to your value proposition and communication channel:

  • test a landing page with a video (it is proven that video is highly engaging)
  • test testimonials (social proof)
  • test writing (is a « join now! » button more efficient that the « join for free » one?)
  • test super fast loading of landing page
  • test super short sign-up form
  • test value proposition (a xx$ coupon or a free shipping?)

Let’s go, just try as I am doing it now. You didn’t notice? 😉

Oh yes I forgot about the chance in that… Well you’ll see…

 

On My Shelf – My 8 preferred books on Innovation and Innovation projects

Innovation books collection

Lately a friend of mine asked me about what kind of books I would consider if asking about « must read » dealing with innovation: Here is my selection of 8 books that are, at the time, the ones I consider as the most valuable.

This is Service Design Thinking

This is Service Design Thinking
This is Service Design Thinking

More than any other books even more than any other website or TV show speaking about IDEO, this is how I have discover Design Thinking and especially SERVICE Design Thinking. Still one of my favourite reference and reading. A comprehensive and useful website is available.

Lean Start-up

Lean Start-up by Eris ries
Lean Start-up by Eris ries

Is there really a need to come back to the Lean Start-up by Eric Ries? Nope. I have been deeply inspired by this book to develop my own approach of Lean Start-up in corporate, used in my company with wonderful results. If you had to choose one…

Business Model Canva and Value Proposition Design

Business Model canva et Value proposition design
Business Model canva et Value proposition design

The sister’s books that worth the reading. I have used and then spread it all around in my company. Benefits? Having a dedicated and common framework and vocabulary to speak about business model and value proposition and more than that, having engineers thinking about business 😉

The Standard for Portfolio Management

Standard for portfolio managementDealing with Innovation projects is nothing else but managing a portfolio of projects. Thus the standard from the PMI(c) is fundamental because before being « innovation » they are « projects » a must be properly managed. pmi.org

Innovation Jugaad

Innovation Jugaad
Innovation Jugaad

In a time where money is missing and when you have to be more and more effective to be sure that every € you put inot innovation will produce some more € as a business, it is vital to do more with less. That’s what Innovation Jugaad is teaching!

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Réussir une négociation
Réussir une négociation

Here is the French version of the famous negotiation book from Roger Fisher and the Havard Negotiation Project. A very useful book for Innovators and for everybody as we all have to negotiate one day or another. Most true for innovators who deals everyday

Les systèmes de suggestion en révolution (idea management in revolution)

I don’t know about the english title of this book but as it has been written by the wonderful Bernie Sander it was originally in english.  A very interesting book for those who have to run an idea management system.

Les systèmes de suggestions en révolution
Les systèmes de suggestions en révolution

Do you see some more to add? Leave a comment!

Your next product idea is right here, in front of you.

Well, exactly it is in front of your future customer but as you are customer oriented you are in front of them so…

I have been asked lately about one product manager of my company about how to have great products ideas. I told him that I had no direct answer for him but I could try to help anyway.

To find good product ideas, follow the steps: 😉

  1. Talk to your customers.
    They will pay for your product so ask them what they want, what are their concern, what should be « Whahou!! »
  2. Find a problem to solve
    That’s key. No one will pay an extra € or $ for something that fix… nothing. So try to find an issue and solve it. An important issue of course. An issue for which people are ready to spend some money to avoid it. Pierre Valade, the founder of Sunrise, tells that he is focusing on everything that takes more than 5 min a day.
  3. Know your market
    What are the exisitng product? What are the leaders? Why? What are their advantages, their limits? Read online merchant website to know what people think about it…
  4. Focus on User Experience
    That makes sense. Focus on what will your customer feels when he/she will use your product. That’s key.
  5. Test it, refine it, reTest it (and rewind)
    testing is key for product development. Getting feedback is so more important that it should be your fist concern. By getting feedback you can adjust your product to your market needs and identify your market. Do and redoing it, both parameters will be assessed: market and product design.

Leadership is key for your project

We all want to be the project manager of a successful project. To manage that goal you have to build an organisation within your project team that enables creativity and innovation, drives results and deliveries and always look to be better.

To do so one should focus on 6 leadership tasks.

  1. Share your vision of the project
  2. Build a common agreement on objectives
  3. Ensure continuous improvement
  4. encourage connections and collaborations
  5. Focus on results
  6. Reward performance.

If you manage to implement all that 6 tasks, you will be able to put the project on the good rails.

What I learned from practicing Long trail run

2013-©Gilles-Reboisson-0679-960x576What I learned from practicing Long trail run…and how I use it at work.

 

I used to run for years now and mainly on tracks and roads. But for 5 years I am running long trails. I mean more than 50km, in the countryside, defintely outside of roads. Being able to run over 42km of a marathon required something that it takes me some time to realize.

The Power from within

2013-©Gilles-Reboisson-0387-960x640

My longuest run was 76km in winter, at night (www.saintelyon.fr). It took me a long long time but preparing this event, I learned a lot about the power that stand within me and training learned me a lot about myself, my life and my profesionnal activity.

To be able to run over 50km a hard training is necessary. During this training you run sometime over 4hours, most of the time by yourself. And that’s the point. Running by yourself allows you to take a step back regarding your daily activities and task and more over it helps you to take hard decisions.

The benefit of the training

I see several benefits regarding such a training regarding my professional life.

  1. Planning
    I used ot run 5 times per week, most of the time around 1h, sometimes over 4 hours. To be able to deploy such a time consuming routine, planning is key. Save every minute, be efficient in your daily task to free some time around, protect the quality of your recovery, and most important protect your family life. That’s a real discipline which is so close from project management...
  2. WBS
    Talking about project management, Work Breakdown structure is also of importance. I started during my latest training to real analyse my day as tasks with sensitive ones, ones that could be moved and so one… Back to planning with a kind of critical path. But knowing your task and what is your day made of allows you to focus on what should be done. Work, train, recover, eat, sleep etc…
  3. Achieve intermediate goals
    Of course setting goals is one way to stay motivated during the good 5 months of a training period. At the begining, stay focused on sensations and back to the pleasure you have to run. Then put some more ambitious targets etc… That’s exactly what management is and what motivation requires.
  4. Time to think by yourself
    Believe me I took some of the most important decision of my life while running (I would add that I took those decisions after 2hours of run…). Being by yourself running allows you to better organise your mind, hypothesis, positive and negative impacts, risks and so on. Everything becomes clear and orgainsed, decisions are cristal clear…

More than all of that…

As all endurance sports, trail running is something that teaches you humility, perseverance, value of hard work, recognition and satisfaction to go behind what you thought was impossible. That’s the main message of long trail running. Nothing is impossible with a good (training) plan.

Visual Project Management: why you should give it a try

 

In the Last issue of PMNetwork from the PMI I have been really interested in an article called: « Now you see it » about the advantages of visual modeling in project management and moreover in gathering requirements.

A short experience

I have myself used Visual Project Management to manage a Continuous Improvement project this year.

Mur Pit Stop visual management
What you can’t realize from the pic is that this tool helped us for:
  • Planning
  • Risk analysis
  • Stakeholder mapping
  • Cost management

We did not use it for requirement analysis but know we have seen that we could do that visually too.

The main interest is as everything is represented graphically, with dedicated colours, with earned-value indicators, and positioned within time (just a funnier and more complete Gantt chart). So you can really see each morning what is late, what you should have on your desk, what is the next task/deliverable/risk to be mitigated…

You have your project under your eyes at a glance. And not only you as project manager. But the whole team. Everyone gets more involved, responsible and accountable for his tasks, in a gentler way that usual Project management tool. That’s one of the most impressive effect of Visual Project Management: Team involvement.

Where should I look to find visual project management tools?

Lost of tools exist and are already mastered into your company. don’t try to reinvent something that your organisation masters. However some new tools can enrich this approach for the best of your project.

  • Continuous improvement tools
    Such as Ishikawa, Value Stream Mapping, Process Workflow and so on can be used to gather requirements, find interactions and lean-ify your project
  • Visual management
    Of course Visual Project management is first of all… visual management so please take a look at your dashboards and see what could be useful for your projects.

Those first two are kind of classic. However I would like to mention one family that is of a big interest for my actual projects

  • Design thinking tools
    Yes really. Design Thinking. Customer journey, Blueprint, persona etc… are very good tools to manage a project and model its interactions, requirements and deliverables. Planning can be fined tuned using Customer journey. Give it a try!

Of course most of the tools that helps you to analyse a situation or predict scenarios can be helpful.

What for?

More than just tools, Visual Project Management will have a major impact on your project. A faster agreement on requirements is done using a Ishikawa like diagram called « features diagram » or « features tree ». You can build a better common understand of the project and its deliverables using the Customer Journey. Project monitoring is easier when leverage on Visual management tools and techniques.

As a conclusion

You should really try the Visual Project Management. Definitely. After my first experiment of it I use it every day to manage my R&D/Innovation portfolio together with more classical PMP processes. It helps me to leverage the portfolio approach while giving me the opportunity to better understand and model the interactions among the projects, esp. the resources, and to communicate at the easiest with all stakeholders.

A La recherche de l’innovation de rupture…

La rupture, est-ce la solution?
La rupture, est-ce la solution?

Posons tout de suite la problématique : Est-ce vraiment une bonne idée que de chercher l’innovation de rupture ?

Cette question je me la pose longtemps. De nombreux Exec ont ce mot à la bouche « Disruption ». Et donc la recherche de ‘l’innovation qui va révolutionner le marché est devenu le graal de beaucoup d’organisations sans une vraie réflexion, non pas sur la pertinence de ce choix (tout le monde rêve d’inventer le prochain IPhone) mais sur la pertinence de cette approche vis-à-vis de la situation et de la maturité de l’entreprise.

La rupture nécessite des conditions que peu d’entreprises maitrisent.

L’innovation de rupture est difficile à manager. Elle remet en question tellement de choses dans une organisation que peu d’entre elles arrivent à finalement mettre en place les conditions nécessaires à son développement et son arrivée sur le marché. La remise en cause d’intérêts fondamentaux d’acteurs, puissants ou non dans l’entreprise, est une constante de l’innovation de rupture. Ces acteurs deviennent alors des résistances qu’il est souvent difficile d’identifier et de retourner.

Quelques cas par contre permettent de développer une innovation de rupture dans des conditions plus favorables (bien qu’il ne faille jamais faire l’économie de l’analyse des parties prenantes et de leurs intérêts, outil bien connu des chefs de projet) :

  • Difficulté économique majeure, où la rupture est le seul moyen de survie
  • Leadership fort, où l’organisation est une référence et peut se permettre ces changements radicaux (Apple par exemple)
  • Nouveaux entrants conquérant des parts de marché substantielles (Apple de nouveau sur ITunes face à l’arrivée des Deezer et Spotify)

Mettre en place une dynamique de rupture dans une organisation ou la majorité a un intérêt au statu quo requiert une persévérance, un leadership direct des plus hautes hiérarchies avec un support global des niveaux intermédiaires. Personnellement je n’ai jamais rencontré ce cas.

Ne sautez pas d’étapes

Sous la pression du marché et de la concurrence, de nombreuses organisations mettent la pression sur l’innovation de rupture alors que le besoin se porte plus sur la croissance à court ou moyen terme, la préservation des marges et l’engagement des employés. On se focalise alors sur la recherche de LA solution (innovante si possible) en dédaignant tout le travail de fond, ingrat mais nécessaire, qui permettra à l’organisation entière de savoir mettre en œuvre ces nouvelles idées.

Quelques pistes pour réussir

Adapter l’organisation pour lui permettre de savoir implémenter les idées nouvelles est un travail de longue haleine qui tient plus de la transformation culturelle que de l’acte de management de proximité. Cette transformation ne pourra pas d’obtenir en cascadant des directives top-down à appliquer pour les managers mais bien en mettant en place les conditions nécessaires à la modification de l’approche de l’entreprise en elle-même et donc en modifiant sa culture. C’est un chantier important et difficile qui devra être décidé et managé par la Direction générale.

Que faire cependant pour avancer malgré tout ?

Dans mon activité passé et actuelle j’ai pu tester de nombreuses manières d’améliorer la capacité de l’organisation à innover. Le moyen le plus rapide et le plus efficace est l’identification de « champions » au sein des employés, à tous les niveaux. Ces « champions » sont ceux qui sont prêts à innover et à donner leur chance aux idées nouvelles, directement ou non. On donne ainsi accès à un ensemble de ressources et d’influences pour permettre aux projets d’innovation d’aller au bout. Un conseil rapide serait de mettre en place également des « contrats » d’engagement sur une base gagnant / gagnant, non seulement avec vos « champions » (mise en avant, possibilité de travailler sur des champs inhabituels etc…) mais également avec leur management (leadership sur un sujet, publicité des activités etc..) pour déployer le projet d’innovation en marge de l’organisation. Ça marche plutôt bien même si le principal challenge est d’aligner les intérêts de tous, cela est plus simple que de changer toute une organisation.

Et vous, cherchez-vous l’innovation de rupture à tout prix? Votre organisation est-elle capable de le supporter?